This business case provides an outline of how a Web-based platform would address communication and reporting concerns by Anderson & Reilly Law Firm, the benefits, goals, assumptions, performance measures, constraints, as well as alternative options. The shift to a centralized, web-based platform allows the law firm to manage its payroll and administrative tasks with enhanced efficiency. Such a shift would result in a reduction in overhead costs, as well as a reduction in errors and enhancement of accuracy in reporting.
As much as the company has a number of alternatives at its disposal, evaluation of the same has brought to the fore fundamental challenges pertaining to their adoption or retention. Not only does the shift to the Web-based platform result in enhanced efficiency, but it is also in line with the company’s goals and objectives.
Anderson & Reilly Law Firm was started in 2003. At the time of its inception, the law firm was made up of three lawyers and a secretary. The law firm occupied an executive but single office, in which case its operations and business needs were relatively few. The management of its payroll, as well as other administrative functions could, therefore, be satisfactorily handled using the mainframe system.
However, the law firm has grown over the years to increase not only the number of lawyers and employees that it has but also the size of the office that it needs. Currently, the law firm is composed of 20 lawyers, as well as 7 paralegal assistants and 3 secretaries. In addition, a total of 3 departmental heads are incorporated, not to mention 4 workers in the IT department. These employees occupy two floors in a downtown building. Needless to say, the increase in the number of employees and workers in the office resulted in an increase in the burden for the company as far as the administrative activities and the employees’ payroll are concerned. On a monthly basis, Anderson & Reilly Law Firm outsources the services of Oliveri Consultants Inc. who will assist in the alignment of the payroll and financial reports.
One of the key problems in the law firm revolves around the making of financial reports. In line with the mainframe system all financial reports for the entire week and month have to be done manually by the three secretaries. Needless to say, not only does the manual generation of financial reports take too much time and effort, but it also comes with a higher probability that errors will be made in making the entries. This costs the law firm quite a lot in terms of finances and much needed workforce.
On the same note, the employees are currently required to report to the departmental heads as to the number of hours that they have worked every day, as well as raise any concerns that they may be having pertaining to administrative tasks or the payroll and billings. It goes without saying that the enormous burden weighs heavily on the secretary, especially considering that she is also expected to undertake her daily billable tasks. Maintaining a proper balance between the two tasks presents an enormous challenge on the secretaries.
Since the beginning, Anderson & Reilly Law Firm has been using legacy mainframe systems to undertake tasks such as payroll activities, reporting, as well as resource management. These have been rendered inadequate by the increased workforce, which has resulted in higher administrative costs, time wastage, as well as increased turnover of employees. These problems have made it necessary that Anderson & Reilly Law Firm instilsa web-based platform to replace the mainframe legacy platform. The implementation of the Web-based platform would allow employees to have an enhanced role in the management of their payroll and administrative issues, as well as allow the law firm to manage its administrative duties from a central platform. It eliminates redundancy in the workforce, allows for timely and accurate reporting, as well as increased efficiency.
Migrating to the Web-Based platform would have a widespread impact on Anderson & Reilly Law Firm law firm, especially with regard to the time, effort and finances required to carry out certain administrative and payroll activities. On the same note, the migration will undoubtedly require input that alters the manner in which the organization is run, as well as the roles and responsibilities, tools and processes in the organization.
The migration of the existing data from the legacy operating system to a new Web-based operating system requires that disruption to the daily activities in administration and payroll are kept at a minimum. In essence, a phased approach incorporating 6 stages will be used. These stages include the following.
The Web-Based Platform Project undertakes a review and analysis of likely products that would best replace the legacy platform that Anderson & Reilly Law Firm has been using with an entirely new web-based platform. The selection process involves the evaluation of programs with regard to the sufficiency with which they replace the current system while still allowing for the expansion for the next decade.
The new platform, on being selected, will be implemented in phases where the current system will be phased out and archived while the new platform becomes fully operational. The key objective of the project will be realized through enhanced efficiency in carrying out administrative, payroll and reporting activities, which will result in a significant reduction of the expense. On the same note, the increased independence and flexibility of employees is bound to result in enhanced job satisfaction, thereby reducing the turnover in the law firm.
In addition, the time spent undertaking redundant activities that do not bring any income to the law firm will be channeled to productive activities, thereby adding to the return on investment.
The IT department will issue an RFI so as to have clear knowledge of the products available in the market both in terms of software and hardware. The specifications of the products should be listed so as to determine the ones that would sufficiently replace the existing system, as well as meet the future needs of the law firm for at least the next decade. This will allow for evaluation, determination and acquisition of the best product, paving way for the implementation, as well as data population using internal resources.
Considering that the Law firm has grown to occupy two floors, its operations cannot continue being operated on Stand-Alone Computers. It is imperative that a local area network (LAN) is installed so as to allow for the migration from legacy systems to a web-based operating system. This is the only way that the operations of the law firm can be synchronized. A local area network has the advantage of enhancing file transfers and sharing resources such as printers, disks, and internet connection (Schwalbe, 2010). In cases where a wireless local area network is used, mobility is enhanced, not to mention allowing for discussions mainly when computers are remote. While the Law firm has the option of putting in place a wireless network (that uses WiFi technology), a wired network (founded on Ethernet Technology) would be recommended. The following items would be required.
Legal Management Software
In migrating the operations of the company from a legacy-based to a web-based platform, it is imperative that the law firm obtains legal management software that provides distinctive to enable automation of the core processes in its different departments or units. The components should have the capacity to work together in order to establish an end-to-end legal management process (Schwalbe, 2010). Alternatively, they may function as individual software applications that integrate with the existing payroll, accounting and case systems.
While varied software applications may be appropriate, it is recommended that the law firm obtains CLIO, a practice management, client collaboration, time & billing platform that allows for secure access to client data from anywhere. This would not only allow synchronization and accuracy in the billing and payroll operations, but also enhance accountability. It comes with six features that would be useful in enhancing the management processes in the web-based platform. It allows for time tracking, task scheduling, simplified billing, 256-bit SSL encryption for security, document management capabilities for ease and accuracy, not to mention the fact that it is entirely web-based.
Alternatively, it could obtain Rocket Matter, a web-based practice and time management software product that comes with capabilities such as calendaring, invoicing, expense, task, and time tracking, phone messaging, matter-based ledgering, mobile access, documentation management, conflict checking, contact management, mobile access and time-tracking timer among other features. Irrespective of the software chosen, it should have the capacity for Time, Billing and Invoicing, Electronic Signatures, client and case management, Virtual Law Office Services, document management, remote access, Online Document Storage and Backup, and Encrypted Email and Document Exchange (Schwalbe, 2010). These will ensure accuracy of the information in the payroll, tracking the activities of the lawyers and allowing for easy correction of any mistakes that may arise in the entries (Schwalbe, 2010). The lawyers would also have access codes through which they can log in and make any queries and entries pertaining to their billing and payroll, thereby enhancing satisfaction.
The implementation of the Web-based Platform project is aimed at enhancing the capacity of Anderson & Reilly Law Firm to meet certain goals and objectives. These are especially with regard to enhancing its efficiency, reduce costs and enhance accuracy and timeliness.
Enhancing employee efficiency: The undertaking of administrative and payroll activities is bound to require a reduced number of employees, in which case the law firm will increase its efficiency as it will not need to outsource some of the services.
Enhanced accuracy and timeliness in reporting: all data pertaining to administrative and payroll activities will be reported in an accurate and timely manner.
Reduction in employee turnover: Enhanced flexibility and independence of employee allows for quick addressing of any concerns that the employees may be having, thereby enhancing their satisfaction. This results in a reduction in employee turnover.
Reduced expenses: The increased efficiency results in fewer employees and outsourcing being required by the law firm, in which case it saves on overheads and costs spent on these.
The success of the project is built on a number of assumptions. However, these assumptions would be likely to change with time, especially as the scope of the project increases. Nevertheless, they make the fundamental basis upon which the business case is built. The key assumptions made include the following.
As much as the environment may be conducive for the implementation of the project, there are varied constraints that face the same. These constraints are undoubtedly bound to increase (or decrease) with the development of the project into more details. Nevertheless, these constraints form the basis upon which the business case is built and from which other constraints would follow after enhanced detailing. Any additional constraints that are identified in the course of the project will be added accordingly. Nevertheless, the key constraints revolve around the following constraints.
The success of the project is founded on varied key processes or resources. Their likely and expected outcomes would be fundamental to the overall success of the project, in which case they may be used as the yardsticks upon which the performance of the entire Web-based project would be measured (Scwalbe, 2010). It is imperative that quantification of the impact of these performance measures is done so as to determine the real outcome. The table below presents the key resources or processes, and matches them up with the performance measures.
|Key services/Processes/ Resources||Measurement of Performance|
|Manpower, workforce, staff resources||The project is bound to streamline the workforce especially considering that the work previously carried out by the three secretaries alongside other outsourced service vendors can be comfortably carried out by the secretaries alone. In essence, not only will the law firm cease to outsource varied services pertaining to the administrative and payroll activities, but also there will be a reduction of employees carrying out these activities by at least three members of the staff.|
|Reporting||One of the areas that will be fundamentally affected is the reporting activity in Anderson & Reilly Law Firm Law firm. The Web-based platform will streamline reporting activities in the firm, ensuring that the information is entered in an accurate and timely manner. In addition, the timelines within which reconciliation of the reports is done will be depreciably reduced from monthly to twice a year.|
|Maintenance of the Software and the System||There will be a reduction in the number of times that maintenance of the system and software is carried out. The new web-based platform will need to undergo maintenance twice a year, which is a reduction from the monthly maintenance that the system undergoes. Needless to say, there will be a reduction in the workforce that is needed to carry out routine maintenance. It is, however, impossible, to determine the reduction in the workforce needed for maintenance of the system and the software before implementation of the same.|
|Data entry||As noted, the system gives employees more freedom as far as making their own entries is concerned. This results in a reduction (as well as elimination) of the redundant or non-billable activities that managers and secretaries undertake.|
The viability of any project for any company is based on the savings that it incorporates for the company, not only in terms of manpower and human resources but also with regard to the cost or financial savings. In essence, the costs of the project have to be matched up against the savings (benefits) so as to determine the overall viability (Scwalbe, 2010). A cost benefit analysis has been done for the project for its first year, detailing the capital costs and constituent costs, alongside the benefits accruing in the same year. These are presented in monetary terms in the table below and net loss/savings presented at the end of the same.
|Action||Description||Amount in Dollars ($)|
|Purchase Web-based product, hardware, software and licenses||Initial costs pertaining to the web-based project.||390,000|
|Hardware alignment and Software installation||The cost that the IT team incurs in the installing and implementation of the new Web-based platform, transferring information and data from the old system, archiving the legacy system and operationalizing the new system.||60,000|
|Staff training||Training the employees on the functionality of the new web-based platform so as to allow for enhanced utility and success of the same.||70,000|
Total costs ($) —————————————————————— 520,000
|Action||Description||Amount in Dollars ($)|
|A reduction of the Payroll staff by 3 people. Elimination of the need to outsource activities to outside vendors.||The reduction of the number of individuals working in the payroll and finance department will result in savings equal to their combined annual salaries and benefits. These are added to the savings made by the eliminated need for outsourcing the law firm’s activities.||345,000|
|Reduction in the frequency of system and software maintenance||Previously, the system and software maintenance was done on a monthly basis. This has been reduced to only twice a year, which could result in savings as fewer IT resources would be used in such activities that do not generate income.||93,000|
|Non-billable payroll and administrative tasks eliminated from the realm of the departmental heads and secretaries.||5 departmental heads and secretaries have always been burdened with redundant and non-billable tasks pertaining to the payroll, as well as administration. The increased independence of employees eliminates this redundancy resulting in savings in the time (and money) dedicated to such redundant activities by 12 hours a week, billed at 34 dollars for the 5 departmental heads and secretaries.||106,080|
|A 15% reduction in employee turnover||The increased efficiency and independence has resulted in enhanced satisfaction among employees thereby reducing turnover by 15%. This saves the law the money that it requires to recruit, hire, train and orient new employees.||64,000|
Total savings —————————————————————————— 608,080
Difference (Loss or savings) ————————————————————- 88,080
The implementation of the project results in savings amounting to $88,080 in the initial year. This is undoubtedly bound to have a positive impact on the sustainability and profitability of Anderson & Reilly Law Firm law firm. It is worth noting that while the cost incurred in obtaining the licenses and software is a one-time affair, all benefits pertaining to the system are bound to be repeated every year. In essence, the amount of savings is bound to increase in the subsequent years, holding all factors constant.
As much as it would be recommended that Anderson & Reilly Law Firm implement the web-based platform, it is worth noting that the company has varied alternatives that it could still explore. In fact, the choice or decision to implement this system should be based on the evaluation of all alternatives and weighing them against each other in terms of their pros and cons so as to determine the best alternative (Scwalbe, 2010). For this project, Anderson & Reilly Law Firm has the option of retaining the mainframe legacy platform, developing the software internally, as well as outsourcing the web-based platform implementation.
Retaining the mainframe legacy platform that Anderson & Reilly Law Firm use comes with a number of disadvantages. The system is not automated, in which case timely and accurate reporting would be difficult. In addition, it results in wastage of time and money as departmental heads undertake the non-billable tasks pertaining to payroll and administration. Turnover would likely remain high due to dissatisfaction of workers especially considering that they would think of the administration as nonresponsive to their concerns more so with regards to issues pertaining to payroll and administrative activities.
The development of the software internally faces the challenge of deficiency in the technical expertise in the law firm. In addition, the development would consume a lot of time to make and install. This is over and above the enormous investment in terms of financial resources needed to kick off the development to completion.
Outsourcing the platform, on the other hand, introduces an element of redundancy in the law firm, especially considering that the company has employees who have the capacity to implement the same. In essence, that would introduce duplicity, not to mention that it would be extremely expensive on the company. Enormous savings would be made by allowing the internal workers in Anderson & Reilly Law Firm to carry out the implementation, especially considering that they have knowledge about the internal workings of the law firm and its needs.
The implementation of the platform would be guided by a project plan. These have to be examined and given the approval by the executive individuals in the law firm. These would be required to append their signatures against their names, which will serve as an indication that they have read the document and approved the content and would allow for the making of the project plan.
Schwalbe, K. (2010). Information technology Project Management. Boston, MA: Course Technology/Cengage Learning.
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